For some reason I can’t really understand, Zamosc, Poland isn’t very popular among international tourists. It is such a beautiful town, one of the prettiest in Central Europe and the UNESCO place yet only a few people visiting Poland put Zamosc in their Poland itinerary. Huge mistake!
I’ve been to Zamość a few times, mostly on school trips since it’s not too far away from my hometown and I enjoyed the city every single time. Recently I went for a trip to Zamosc again to remind myself what a great place it is and yet again I loved it.
And so today I will tell you why you should visit Zamosc too and what to do and see there.
Table of contents
Where is Zamosc
Zamosc is located in the eastern part of Poland, near the border with Ukraine, in the Lubelskie region. Lublin, the capital of the region, is 90 km away and Warsaw is 260 km away (whereas Lviv, Ukraine is only 130 km away).
The easiest way to get to Zamosc is by bus or train from Lublin. There are also a few direct buses from Warsaw or Rzeszow.
Why visit Zamosc
Not only the city is very beautiful, but there are also numerous Zamosc attractions that will keep you busy for a solid few hours. Add to that a very good food and cafe scene and you will have a great day in Zamosc. This is such a pleasant city to visit.
A brief history of Zamosc
Zamosc was founded in 1580 by the chancellor and hetman Jan Zamoyski who also gave the name to the place. It was conveniently located on the trading route from western and northern Europe to the Black Sea. The town was build in the late renaissance period as the perfect city, based on Italian designs.
Zamość developed nicely, attracting many noble people from different nationalities but also numerous attacks (mostly failed). After the partition of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Zamość was incorporated first to the Austrian Empire and then to Russian but it was an important center of the Polish culture, especially during the 1830 Uprising.
During World War 2, Zamosc Rotunda was used by the Nazis as the execution site where around 8.000 lost their lives. After the war, Zamość kept growing and is now the mid-size city with around 65.000 inhabitants and the center of the region.
Why Zamosc is on UNESCO World Heritage List
The Old Town in Zamość is one of the 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland. It was inscribed to the list in 1992 as “a unique example of a Renaissance town in Central Europe, consistently designed and built in accordance with the Italian theories of the “ideal town”.
And when you look at the map of Zamość Old Town it really looks perfect, designed to look like a human. The head is, of course, Hetman Zamoyski’s residency, the spine is Grodzka street, the heart is the town hall with the clocktower, the lungs are the cathedral and the academy, and the bastions are arms and legs.
Things to do in Zamosc
Most of the things to do in Zamosc can be found in and around the Old Town and you can easily walk everywhere (you can also use melex cars that are available).
Start your Zamosc sightseeing in the market square where you will find the stunning town hall and some of the most beautiful townhouses. All of them are interesting and worth taking a closer look at but those that will catch your attention right away are so-called Armenian houses.
Those colorful buildings from the 17th century, each in a different color, are located next to the town hall at the beginning of the Armenian (Ormiańska) street. This part of the town was given to the Armenians by Jan Zamoyski hence the name of the street and houses.
The houses are richly decorated and just the prettiest. Today you can visit the local museum in the Armenian houses. While the museum itself is ok, it is a good opportunity to see the houses inside.
The town hall, towering above the area with its 52-meter tower, is among the prettiest ones in Poland and its winding stairs are a perfect Instagrammable spot in Zamość.
In the town hall, on the right side, you can find the tourist info point where you can get free maps of Zamosc and ask all the questions about the city.
There are even more beautiful townhouses all over the old town. Every single street hides some beautiful architecture and the best thing you can do is wandering around the winding lanes of the old town, it’s such a pleasant thing to do. There are also some nice hidden yards, don’t be afraid to enter them too!
You might notice one distinctive thing about Zamosc townhouses, especially in the main square but not only. They all have arcades that add up to the atmosphere of the city. They are especially useful on the hot and sunny day as it’s a great hiding place in the shadow.
On the market square, you will find plenty of restaurants and cafes. You can try regional cuisine from the Roztocze region (just outside of Zamość, a beautiful area, and a national park), it’s really delicious (I especially like their version of pierogi).
I can personally recommend “Figa z makiem bistro”, their food was so good! For coffee and cake you should stop at “Kawa na Ławę” at the corner of Grodzka street.
The market square is a perfect place to relax before further sightseeing in Zamość.
After carefully exploring all the details of the market square and wandering along other charming streets you should see a few more attractions. The nearby Cathedral of the Resurrection and St. Thomas the Apostle that dates back to the times when Zamość was founded and is a beautiful example of the renaissance style.
Be sure to climb the cathedral tower (that actually stands next to the cathedral), it’s not that high but the view from there is really lovely. You can see the old town with its 15th-century urban planning, the city walls, and modern Zamość beyond.
Zamość has really nice city walls surrounding the old town, with a total length of 2,5 km. In the past, Zamosc had a well-known fortress protecting the city, one of the biggest in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Unfortunately, the Tsar Alexander II of Russia has ordered to take it down and today you can only see some remnants like bastions and city gates. They are a nice reminder of the great past of Zamość.
If you are interested in military history and the fortifications of Zamosc there is a good museum at the Arsenal.
Another good place to visit is the local synagogue, the best-preserved synagogue from the late renaissance in Poland that is also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It served to the local Jewish community from 1618 till World War 2 (when 45% of the inhabitants in Zamość were Jewish).
Today you can find there the museum dedicated to the Jewish people from the Zamość region. When I visited the synagogue there was a really interesting exhibition about the Jewish kids that were saved by Polish families and often didn’t know their heritage until they were adults.
Even if you are not interested in the museum it’s still worth visiting the synagogue for its beautiful interior.
And while you are there be sure to stop at Mazagran cafe next door for delicious coffee and halva. Or, if it’s busy, you can visit Galicya cafe around the corner.
While the view from the cathedral’s tower is really nice, there are two other viewpoints worth checking.
One of them is in Nadszaniec, part of the city walls that works as a shopping center now. You can get through the shopping center to the rooftop and see the view over the old town from there, just remember to get the ticket first in the lower levels.
Another nice viewpoint is from the pedestrian bridge above the railways, just outside the city walls. Bonus points if you can get a picture with the train (I return there only for that one shot).
The majority of Zamosc attractions are within the old town but there is one place a few minutes away from it that you can’t miss – Rotunda. It’s not the easy place to visit and completely different from the picture-perfect old town.
During the WW2 it was a Nazi camp and the execution site (part of the Ethnic cleansing plan), today it’s the Museum of Martyrdom of the Zamość region. There is a war cemetery around Rotunda, with ashes of more than 45 thousand people.
Final thoughts on visiting Zamosc
There are even more things to do in Zamosc that I didn’t have time to check during my last visit to Zamosc: the underground route or a few museums. But as you can see even without them Zamość is packed with attractions.
I loved revisiting the city after ten or so years. It feels even more beautiful and interesting than before and I believe this is one of the top places to visit in Poland.
It might be a bit away but Zamość is definitely worth the trip. And you can combine it with the nearby Roztocze National Park that is beautiful too!
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